I can only tolerate an hour, or so, of tasting through large portfolios at crowded trade events. With an air of desperation, I scurry to discover a new wine or two representing a commensurate quality and value reward for immersing in this tasting format’s inherent nest of inconvenience.
My schedule had me in Boston simultaneous with the Loire Valley Wine Bureau tasting at the Taj and the Freedom Wine Tour event at the Westin. My attendance was convenient and tinged with fate. All combined, there were approximately 1000 wines to taste in two sessions, or for me, two hours.
Here are three take-aways:
1) Loire Valley wines hit me as wonderfully honest representations of varietal and appellation. The Wine Bureau organized an excellent multi city event series. Working your way through a volume of Loire wines is serious business with over 40 regional and village designations compounded by multiple growers, styles, and grape varietals. Suffice it to say, my speed tasting experience with the broad sampling of Chenin Blancs, Cabernet Francs, Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris, Melon de Bourgognes, Gamays, etc. did not bore me with homogenous singular styles, but instead expressed the joy of winemaker and vineyard/village/regional differences in the wines.
2) There were so many Loire Valley wines that spoke from their originating soil that it’s hard to pick a favorite. A standout came from Chinon: 2005 Couly Dutheil Clos de L’Echo Crescendo. It is 100% Cabernet Franc made from 80 year old vines. Couly-Dutheil was founded in the early 20th century by René Couly and Madeleine Dutheil and The Clos de l’Echo vineyard was in the family before then. As luck and my taste would have it, the wine is not cheap and is in the $50-$75 range. Still, it is a round, full bodied, exotic wine of medium to heavy tannins that mixes aromas reminiscent of Hong Kong’s harbor and field herbs to entice fans of full wines anchored in specific old world soil. It is a wine to lay away for a good long time. Check it out on a splurge.
3) 2008 Falanghina Cantina del Taburno: This was my value find of the week at $12. When Matt Demers at Arborway poured the wine for me, he could have told me it was $35 retail and I would not have blinked. It was a white wine of such amazing purity and cleanliness with summer white fruits, melon, and flowers streaming out of the glass that I could not move past it. Cantina del Taburno is a cooperative from Italy’s southern wine district. In subsequent reading I discovered that Parker wrote:
Cantina del Taburno is one of Campania’s most promising estates. The winery is a cooperative and quality can be variable, but the top wines compete with the best being made anywhere.
The Falanghina grape that makes up 100% of this wine seems to be gaining in popularity. Demers claims his secret mission is to replace every bottle of Pinot Grigio on all wine lists with Falanghina.
I strongly recommend both of these wines. They are on different ends of the value spectrum, but both offer unique looks into varietal and regional distinction.